Fighting for the NHS: JR4NHS press release

We are adding our voices to the call for NHS campaigners to be outside the Royal Courts of Justice this week, 9am, Wednesday and Thursday, 23 & 24 May to lend moral support to the claimants in this Judicial Review which was previously supported by Prof Steven Hawking, prior to his death. 

Two of the claimants, Prof Allyson Pollock and Dr Graham Winyard, CBE, were also called to give evidence on 27 February to the Health Select Committee’s Inquiry on the subject of Accountable Care Organisations, although without being able to discuss the case in that instance. 

In her oral evidence Prof Pollock said, “We have to take the big picture; everybody on the ground is working hard because they want to make the best of a very bad and chaotic deal, but we have to have some sunlight as to what is really going on.”

We send Prof Pollock and her team best wishes for this week – and here’s hoping that they succeed in shining some sunlight.

Press release issued by the Judicial Review for the NHS (JR4NHS). You can find this press release and other regular updates from JR4NHS and subscribe to their mailing list here.

The judicial review of government plans for a large scale and long-term handover of NHS responsibilities from local commissioners to contracted “Accountable Care Organisations” (ACOs) is scheduled at the Royal Courts of Justice in London on 23rd and 24th May 2018 [1]. Five claimants are now four[2] following the death of Professor Stephen Hawking in March. He continued to fight for the NHS right up to the end of his life and remains an inspiration.
Here is what he helped to achieve:
• When the case started in December 2017, NHS England was planning to introduce the first ACOs by April 2018. The Government was planning to rubber stamp swathes of regulations so that ACOs could operate.
• Following massive public support for judicial review of their plans [3], NHS England promised a full national consultation on the plans. The Government said it will not make regulations until after the consultation. That satisfied 2 of our 4 grounds for judicial review – our first victories.
• But ACOs and regulations may only have been delayed by a year. The policy to introduce ACOs is still very much in place.
• We need to win this court case to land a serious blow to plans to privatise the NHS.

Background
• At the heart of our concerns is that, as envisaged in the policy, ACOs would need to take on most of the functions of Clinical Commissioning Groups (CCGs). It would be ACOs, not the CCGs, that would be responsible for making most of the decisions about providing health and care services.
• ACOs could be wholly or partly private organisations. Unless the changes are blocked we could end up with for-profit health organisations making behind the scenes decisions on long term NHS provision.
• We are arguing that the law which says clinical commissioning groups must make those decisions is being subverted and that in planning and supporting ACOs, the Secretary of State for Health and Social Care and NHS England have fallen below public law standards of openness and transparency
• The thousands of people who have supported this JR demonstrate:
o how important it is it to maintain the NHS
o for the public to be involved in NHS decision making
o and not to allow control and decision making to be handed over
• Win or lose, support for the JR has demonstrated that the public is not willing to hand over their NHS to unaccountable, unelected organisations nor to the private sector. The campaign will go on.
• In the meantime, cuts and closure of services are occurring across the country, NHS buildings and land are being sold at knock-down prices and non-clinical staff are being transferred from NHS employment into newly-formed companies.
• Those plans continue whatever the outcome of this judicial review, so we encourage other to support local and national campaigns resisting this asset-stripping.
• The judicial review claimants are represented by Jenni Richards QC and Peter Mant of 39 Essex Chambers, instructed by Kate Harrison of Harrison Grant Solicitors.

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